There are 469 active, retired and minor league players who are scout-rated or have played innings at the catcher position in the Bull Baseball League. And just one throws the ball with his left hand.
Meet Joe Stevenson, of the Dos Palos A’s, a Heifer League (AA-level) affiliate for the Ohio Oxen.
Rarer than pixie dust, Joe is a left-handed fielder who, while currently assigned as first baseman for the A’s, played a nearly a full season last year as a catcher.
The stocky farm-hand sized Stevenson scrapes the sky at 6’5″ and tips the scales at 240 lbs, quite clearly not a build for a catcher to begin with. But last year he made the 25-year-old from Edmonton, Alberta, put in 144.2 innings over 17 games as the catcher for the Fort Wayne Lightning (A-level) in the Calf League, where he had 143 put outs and 13 assists, allowing just 3 errors. He threw out 8 runners attempting steals, for an RTO of 25.0%.
During a brief stint at AAA-level Toledo, Stevenson did even better at throwing out runners from the wrong side, at 40.0%, and was error-less in 17 innings.
Traditional baseball thinking is that a right-handed catcher is always preferable for a variety of reasons. Most batters are right handed, so a righty catcher can make the throw to third if needed by going around the batter easier. The throws back to the pitcher, or even to second to gun down a runner, are less crowded. Plays at home are easier for righty catchers fielding from an open stance, avoiding the need to backhand a throw from the field to make the tag.
But Joe Stevenson is proof that a left-handed catcher can work in pro baseball. And while Stevenson will may not be winning any major-level batting titles if and when he finally breaks into the Ohio lineup down the road, he can offer the team a skill that is literally unique — as he is the only left-handed catcher ever to have played at any level of the Bull Baseball League.